Published On: Tue, Jan 22nd, 2019

Human Trafficking is the Focus of New Place of Hope Initiative

By: Robert S Weinroth

The Place of Hope held an inaugural Human Trafficking Awareness Luncheon at St Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach.

Place of Hope, Palm Beach County’s largest children’s organization; the Boca West Children’s Foundation; and other partners are fighting to interrupt the recruitment of more young people into the human trafficking system with another weapon – face-to-face education.

For over 17 years, Place of Hope, under the watchful eye of its Founder & CEO, Charles Bender, has cared for children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected in the child welfare system.

As the needs have evolved and these children have “aged out” of the state’s dependency system, Place of Hope has been in the forefront of providing extended services to youth no longer under the umbrella of the state, the homeless and single mothers.

Having now served 11,000 children, youth and families in need, Place of Hope has witnessed, firsthand, the physical and mental damage caused by human trafficking.

With a $25,000 grant from the Foundation’s Dream Maker Society, and the ongoing support from the Boca West Children’s Foundation, Place of Hope added a Human Trafficking Prevention and Education Coordinator to its staff.

Laura Cusack’s job is to talk directly to youth about how to avoid becoming a statistic.

Additionally, Cusack is educating and training Palm Beach County residents, Place of Hope volunteers, corporate partners and other nonprofit agencies on what they can do to make South Florida less hospitable to human traffickers.

Lastly, she is implementing ways to reach youth already in danger, giving them access to the hotline when no one else may be able to help.

Human Trafficking is essentially modern day slavery – the buying and selling of humans for sex or labor. Through human trafficking, people profit from the control and exploitation of others.

Florida ranks 3rd in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking.

Foster & homeless youth are at the greatest risk of becoming victims.

Traffickers use the Internet to target children in our community

Sex trafficking is the #1 type of human trafficking in Florida.

A panel of experts, including State Attorney Dave Aronberg and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay joined Cusack several members of law enforcement, and Savannah Parvu, a human trafficking survivor, to bring the message home that Human Trafficking is a clear and present danger to our children. 

Place of Hope is pleased to offer specialized training to individuals, agencies, businesses and civic groups that have an interest in learning more about what human trafficking is. They offer a wide variety of prevention and support groups, including the “My Life My Choice” curriculum for youth at risk of being trafficked.

The Place of Hope staff and volunteers conduct outreach to order to provide tangible resources and deliver hope to at-risk populations and potential trafficking victims beyond the Place of Hope’s campuses.

Place of Hope is in the process of developing a new revenue generating concept – Peninsula Coffee, to help combat trafficking in our community. The social enterprise will also create jobs for the youth in our area.

For information, visit or to learn more about volunteering or hosting a presentation, please contact Cusack at [email protected]

Florida has a zero tolerance for human trafficking. If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.373.7888

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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